succumbing to peer pressure

Friday, April 10, 2009

Oh xkcd!

(one of my nerd fantasies is to go back in time and 'fix' mathematical notation so that we a) don't use so many letters that look like each other (m and n, i and j) and b) don't use letters that look the same in capital and lower case (x, y, and s). Also, if we could get all the science fields to agree on what certain letters mean, like i, that would be awesome)

Just a tip

If you volunteer over dinner that you like 'deep' movies, but found Pulp Fiction a little hard to follow, you're probably just going to get a hug at the door.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Now with more Dr.!

It's even more officially official now - as of last Thursday morning I finally got the last piece of paper signed and handed over to the grad school, and submitted my electronic copy to the library.

It all went fine, but I have to say that the days between March 24 and April 2 were among my least favorite. After my successful defense, my committee still wanted some edits. They were minor, and mostly reasonable, and I suppose if I had been thinking rationally at that point I would have recognized that they had to give me one more thing to do, and that these edits were a technicality no one was ever going to check up on. But, me being me, I got marginally worked up about them, and burned through them on Thursday and Friday following my defense. I just wanted the last is dotted and ts crossed so I could finally mentally close the book on this damn thing. I sent the updated version off to my committee on Friday evening, asking them to please let me know if I had not adequately addressed their concerns and to tell me when they would be around the following week so I could collect signatures. On Monday morning one committee member wrote back saying that he would be in his office all week. Wednesday rolls around and not another word from a single other committee member. Hello people! I'm dying out here! I need to hear you say the words "You are done." Say it! SAY IT!

Luckily Wednesday afternoon I have my regular meeting with my advisor and she signs everything and then I run in to other committee member and he asks if I'm done. I say, "You tell me." He signs everything.

Oh, I should also mention that Wednesday morning I came down with a screaming head cold.

Thursday morning I'm up and out the door at the crack of dawn to track down last committee member and schlep all 166 pages + misc administrative documentation down to the grad school.

By Thursday afternoon I'm back in bed and Friday it's time to pack.

Washington, DC

Because yesterday I flew (on a brand-spanking-new plane) to DC for a week of work. And just like when my boss was in town in February, I have to keep pinching myself because I can't believe that I get to do this, every day, for, probably, hopefully, as long as I want!

Good thing too, because I'm still a bit sick-brained and there were moments this afternoon when, interesting as the conversation was, I thought I might keel over.

I'm now comfortably ensconced in my hotel suite, with my wi-fi, shiny new macbook, and a big hotel desk covered in papers and notes. Life is good.


I wrapped up The Lost Painting, which is an interesting-enough true story to easily burn through in a few days.

I followed that up with A Canticle for Leibowitz. I'm not inclined to agree with my Dad, that it's a 'life-changing' book, but it deserves its place in the canon of post-apocalyptic tales. The story follows a monastary through three time periods, first immediately following nuclear war, again several hundred years later as civilization is beginning to crawl back out of the muck, and again several hundred years later as we're about to do it all over again. It reads like the 1950s book that it is (first reporter, second reporter, lady reporter), and is heavily twinged with the author's discomfort over our dropping the bomb and his personal struggle with Catholicism. Though the religious arguments felt a little jarring to me (perhaps I'm a bit too used to sci-fi books having a satisfying atheistic bent) they were fully fleshed out and thought-provoking, so I shouldn't complain. I'm more inclined to agree with the final abbot in the story, who is despondent over our ability to choose to drop the bombs again, even after knowing what that will bring. Dad, on the other hand, thinks the story is hopeful, that civilization will survive, and come back, even after the worst that we can do to each other. To each his own.

Next was The Accidental Time Machine, which is pretty terrible, but readable in an afternoon or two, if you're looking for that kind of thing. Also, it prompted my roommate to tell me about the party they threw at MIT for time travelers, which landed them a joke from Tina Fey!

I'm now working my way through A Cook's Tour, and finding Bourdain pretty appealing. Why do I have such a soft spot for assholes? I was sort of hoping some of the places on my upcoming list (Guatemala, Colombia) were on his list, but alas, the only one that gets a chapter is San Francisco!